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''The Passion'' will rise (to No. 1) again

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The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of The Christ: Philippe Antonello

Get ready for ”The Passion of the Christ,” Act II.

After exploding with $83.8 million in its opening weekend (and $125.2 million over its first five days), Mel Gibson’s personal project will easily log another weekend atop the box office chart, thanks to continuing media coverage and audience interest. Even with a drop of 40 percent, ”The Passion” will gross another $50 million this weekend, bringing its two-week total above the $200 million mark.

Meanwhile, the comic duo of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson will have to settle for second place with their latest effort, a big-screen update of the ’70s TV hit ”Starsky & Hutch.” Their funny bit at the Oscars only increased awareness of the film, which should debut with $25 million.

Speaking of the Academy Awards, ”The Return of the King” star Viggo Mortensen has his first post-Aragorn vehicle in ”Hidalgo,” a period thriller whose TV ads try to make it seem like the latest ”Mummy” movie. The tactic should work, to the tune of about $16 million.

The returning films ”50 First Dates” and ”Confessions of a Drama Queen” will round out the top five with $7 million and $4 million, respectively. But they’ll need to make room next week for Johnny Depp’s ”Secret Window.”

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